Browsing Category Features

Flesh World’s Jess Scott on Section 25 – Love & Hate

Jess Scott’s membership in the under-sung, shambolic trio Brilliant Colors would cement her status around here alone, but she’s doubled down on great bands, heading up the equally great Flesh World. Their second LP is on the way from Dark Entries and it’s an intoxicating mix of brittle, anxious post-punk and dreampop that will undoubtedly convert a few more fans to their cult of sound. As usual with Hidden Gems, I’ve asked Jess to elaborate on an album that she finds underrepresented or overlooked in the halls of musical accolades. She’s dug deeper into the Factory files than most cursory listeners with a dive into Section 25’s 1988 album Love & Hate.

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Wand’s Cory Hanson on Miles Davis – Get Up With It

There have been many bands that I’ve seen evolve here at RSTB, and with varying results, for sure. Wand’s evolution from fuzzbomb psych stewards to their current incarnation as archivists of alternative’s more ambitious corners is a journey that’s been exciting to experience from a listener’s vantage. I’d had a missed connection with the band’s Cory Hanson when he ventured into psych-folk for a solo endeavor last year on Drag City, but this time around the fates have aligned to get in a Gems feature on the verge of the release of their fourth album, Plum. For the uninitiated, Hidden Gems explores an album that the artist finds underrepresented in the canon of popular culture – the kind that falls through the cracks and deserves a shining light. Here Cory Hanson explores Miles Davis’ 1974 double album Get Up With It, explaining how it came into his life and how it’s had an effect on his own songwriting.

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Jenny McKechnie on Au Pairs – Playing With A Different Sex

As far as new artists in 2017 go, I’d say that Cable Ties are taking top honors right now. In their home country of Australia they’re raking in accolades and topping out mid-year charts, a trend that should hopefully catch on worldwide if there’s any justice. The band’s Jenny McKechnie is pulling triple duty as a cultural force, playing in newcomers Wet Lips alongside the Ties and co-heading a new label, Hysterical Records, alongside Amanda Vitartas of Future Popes and Grace Kindellan of Wet Lips. While Cable Ties is a taut musical force in its own right, much of the credit must be given to McKechnie’s vocal prowess and biting lyrics, both of which have drawn comparisons to crucial feminist punk outfits like X-Ray Spex or Sleater-Kinney. As usual with Hidden Gems I’ve asked Jenny to pick a record that’s been a bit overlooked in her opinion and tell how it came into her life and impacted her music. She gives her take on the Au Pairs’ ever resonant debut Playing With a Different Sex below.

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Shannon Shaw on Langley Schools Music Project

I’m thrilled to have garage icon Shannon Shaw as the latest contributor to the Hidden Gems series today. Shannon should be familiar to most through her work with Shannon and the Clams, and as the secret soul weapon in Hunx (formerly with his Punx). She’s a bastion of badass, a dynamic visual artist, and as even a cursory listen to The Clams would attest a superb appreciator of ’60s sounds. The series, as always, takes a look at albums lost in the cracks, underappreciated and looking for some love. This week, Shaw points some light on Hans Fenger’s collection of children’s choral explorations of ’60s pop. The album has found its own cult over the years, including among many of the artists covered. Shannon lets us in on how this gem came into her life and how it’s impacted her own music.

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Mikey Young on Third World War – S/T

There have been a lot of names on my wishlist for this feature, but standing near the top has been Mikey Young. If you’re unfamiliar, then you clearly reside outside of Australia, and have little to no interest in what’s currently pouring out of nation’s coffers lately. Young is a driving force of two of the best bands of the past decade, Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Total Control. Add to that a hand behind the boards on pretty much every other indie release that hits the shelves and it solidifies the fact that the man is beyond integral to the new wave of Australian indie. As with all entries to Hidden Gems, this feature seeks to find an album that’s been overlooked by the majority and shine a little light on it. Below Young tells how the proto-punk debut from Third World War came into his life and the impact its had on his own works.

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James Elkington on Robin Williamson – Myrrh

You might not immediately recognize James Elkington’s name but chances are you’ve heard his playing on songs by Jeff Tweedy, Wooden Wand, Richard Thompson, Steve Gunn, Michael Chapman, Joan Shelley, Nathan Salsburg or Tortoise. He’s a kind of sidmean’s sideman, a songwriter’s secret weapon who adds texture and depth to any song he graces. He’s steeped in the traditions of Basho, Fahey and Ayers with a touch that rivals his compatriot Steve Gunn in accessibility and nuance. As usual Hidden Gems explores the albums that inspire reverence in artists, the ones that they feel haven’t received due diligence. Elkington goes deep on a solo outing from the Incredible String Band’s Robin Williamson, and makes a case for a psych-folk classic lost to time.

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RSTB Best of 2017 (so far)

Is it already six months into 2017? Could that be possible? Though it seems there are a hundred other things to distract these days from musical output, it’s been a banner year in terms of albums meeting high expectations and some new surprises sneaking their way into rotation. Somehow, despite plenty of talent bubbling through other genres, it’s just felt right to embrace the blistering squall of psych, noise and punk these past few months. So, as usual, here are the albums that have spent most time on the turntable here. Presented in alphabetical order, its a pretty good roundup with six more months left on the clock.

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Design Inspiration: Jakob Skøtt

For the third installment of the site’s Design Inspiration series, I’m focusing on Jakob Skøtt, who wears triple hats at the excellent Danish label, El Paraiso Records. Skøtt is co-owner, member of the band Causa Sui and chief designer of the label’s aesthetic. That aesthetic struck me immediately as being one of the most cohesive and attractive since Sacred Bones took up arms 10 years ago. Like SB, the label hearkens back to the idea of library sleeves or serialized jazz, tying their catalog together through crisp typography and the faded hues of Skøtt’s paintings. There are very few labels that I stumble upon and immediately want to buy wholesale on sleeve art alone but El Paraiso makes the case for buying blind and assuming a quality product. Below are Jakob’s picks for his five favorite album covers.

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Matthew Melton on John Denver – Farewell Andromeda

Hidden Gems has become an opportunity to look into the inspirations that drive the artists I love around here, but it’s also revealed several layers to those I’d thought I had pegged. Case in point, for all his catalog leanings and past permutations I’d have figured that Matthew Melton would turn in an uncharted power pop gem, or given his latest direction in Dream Machine, perhaps a proto-metal nugget from beyond the grave. However, Melton went deep into the past to unearth some of his first musical inspirations with a look at John Denver’s under-celebrated 1973 album Farewell Andromeda. I asked Matthew how this album came into his life and how it’s affected his work.

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RSTB Presents: 120 Seconds

Introducing a new feature that will stand alongside the site today. In addition to regular coverage here, I’m starting up a video series that will focus on new music via two minute videos. I’ll spare you the boredom of watching me talk awkwardly into a camera trying not to look as if I’m reading in one direction and speaking in another. Instead the series will indulge a ’90s nostalgia for cut ‘n paste video sequencing doused in a particular bent of pop culture fixation and rounded up into two minute bites. Basically this exists because I watched too much TV as a child. The first episode is below and it features Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Peacers, School Damage and Bleached.

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